Obligation to cook and feminist toga seems to relegate the fact that food plays an important role in the life of man. However, who engages in the cooking was taken as a given until recent debates on social media linked it a forced role ascribed to women by their dominant men.
The debates on Nigeria’s social media space was intriguing and educating especially coming from most of the young women who have donned the feminist toga. I believe it’s a vogue thing for some females to always, at the drop of a hat, to attack anything and everything male (that will be a discussion for another day). Some of the arguments adduced for females not to cook were as diverse as our faces are different.
One thing worth noting is the tenacity with which the feminists held their ground. This was a source of concern to yours sincerely as I began to wonder if this all-important role was being easily given away to the males. Some of the ideologues were so vociferous in their argument to the extent that they swore under pain of death never to cook for whatever reason. That is to say, they would never contemplate cooking for their spouse under whatever circumstances. I had thought, erroneously, that cooking was a thing of pleasure for women. I was gravely mistaken. The world has changed. The role of women, definitely, has changed with it and I may not be living in the past.
Part of the protagonist for the female gender was of the opinion that they would get cooks to do the arduous, it’s a sweaty affair and tedious, to enable them to handle some other business. But who to hire suppose to be the main concern because the penchant for the male to also want to quench the desire of his loins after quenching his hunger especially if the delicacy was prepared by a maid. Some menfolk would want to investigate if the culinary ability of the maid could match her abilities in the other room. Housemaids, when they always cook for the man of the house have a way of ending up in other “oga’s arms”. Men have a way of falling easily for food. As the popular aphorism goes, “the way into a man’s heart is through his stomach”.
Women have the patience for the art of cooking. They bring love and care into cooking. Men being brash lots may not have the patience to really cook. What men usually do is to cobble up stuff together and call it food. Women have a way of bringing out the beauty that lies within whenever they take the time to cook, thus destroying the inner monster within men. It may not be unrelated to why a man always looks forward to going home to a good meal. In the same way that a woman looks forward to her well-cooked meal been eaten by her man.
In my quest to get the opinion of everyday women, I put it to them if the role of women who worked was not to include cooking. One of the respondents asked if the ideologues were truly women. They asked what the role of women would be if they no longer cooked. They would want to know whether the woman’s role would be limited to serving him the other food behind closed doors. Cooking which is part of the culture of a people reflects the way of life of a people. It goes beyond who cooks. The sourcing of the food, the cooking and eating are all part of the culture of a people. The shared role that is involved reflects the life of the people in a giving society or culture.
The role of a woman in a typical Nigerian setting is to ensure that everyone gets fed from the father of the house to all the members of the family including visitors that may come. It behoves on the man to provide the ‘necessaries’ for the mother to cook. However, with the world becoming more global and roles becoming fluid noting stops male cooking for the whole household if the mother is indisposed. In times past, the woman religiously prepares the meal for the family, and the girl child learns the art of cooking from the mother. It is at this point that the child learns the art and science of taking care of the home. And even get to know when to make demands on her man. However, society has grown beyond the period that women depended solely on men to make daily provision for them.
A woman, who knows how to scheme, makes demands on her husband when she makes him a good meal. It should be noted that the person that cooks holds an important position in which literary determine whether the person consuming the food lives or dies. Thus, the person who does the cooking at any point in time holds an influential position wherever such role is being played. It is here that our women are adept at using the powers that come with cooking. Her culinary abilities and cunning nature come to work for her if she is able to provide the man with his favourite meal. Some would say this places the woman at a subservient position as she is made to do a task that is thankless.
Ascribing certain roles to women stemmed from the domination of women by men. Man the gatherer did not really have clear cut roles for any gender. However, childbirth and other roles that are nature-given, like childbirth, meant women could not perform some of the physical taskings roles which men performed. It thus meant that women had to be ascribed roles which were less physically demanding. The dominant group always imposes its decision on the subdued. This may no longer be so as more and more women hold positions of authority which do not afford them the luxury of time to attend to cooking. It has been observed that many women in authority do not want to relinquish the cooking role, especially for their partner to another person.
The advent of technology has aided in causing a major shift in the role ascribed to women. To be candid, there is no straitjacketed role ascribed to any gender in the present. This has put to lie the popular saying that all women’s education end in the kitchen. When you come to think of it, same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in the developed part of the world. Roles have truly changed. Technology has even made cooking very easy, not with the introduction of noodle which was hitherto limited to the Asian continent. The instant noodle can be compared to the gari (cassava flakes) which can an idea be soaked in either cold or hot water to be consumed in other varying forms. In this part of the world, the roles ascribed to women have become truly fluid. The traditional role of women been limited to the kitchen can no longer hold. Women have to work from 8 am to 4 pm may not have the luxury to attend to kitchen stuff. At the end of the day, there might be the need for a housemaid, the ubiquitous.
Personally, cooking should be a skill that should be learnt by all as it is a lifesaving skill. The recent rave for living healthy has made many to acquire the skill to cook. For those who can, it is best to acquire the art of cooking, you never know it may come in handy. Cooking has even been made easy with the internet which provides recipes for whatever you may want to cobble together as a meal. Moreover, the plethora of mama put even solves the problem when you are not able to cook. You may resort to ordering food online too, depending on your social status. Thus, it should be a source for conflict whether the food is cooked by a man or woman. It is unfair, in my opinion, to see the act of cooking as being restricted or forced on the weaker gender. It is an important art and also scientific in nature.
Feminists have long wished to remove women from the kitchen where most women would ordinarily want them to remain. In the past, domestic chores were left to the female child while her male counterpart was left to roam free. However, the world has definitely changed. In times past, female children were limited to playing with dolls and consigned to indoor activities. Not in the present, the sky is now the stepping stone for the female child as they have come to perform better than males when given the opportunity. Where there is a shared responsibility to provide for the home, both couples have a duty to share the chores and even eat out when time and resource allow. It is not a cut and dry role which is force.